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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Setting eBay starting bids

The Bargain Queen LOVES eBay. Two or three times a year The Bargain Queen has a big wardrobe clean-out, and a lot of the culled clothing finds great new homes on there. While it's not big money by any stretch, it's very satisfying to buy a cute top on sale for $30, wear it twice, then sell it on eBay for $28.50.

As a recovered eBay addict, there's very little that happens on eBay that The Bargain Queen doesn't know about. Recently though, The Bargain Queen has tried to become more systematic in her eBay research, to see if she might make a little more money from it.

Now eBay can be a confusing, nonsensical place, so figuring out how to maximise returns isn't always easy. For example, The Bargain Queen recently listed a ten pieces of clothing for 99c starting bid each, to see what would happen. It was a disaster. After taking into account postage, eBay fees and PayPal fees, there was only $6.37 profit on the whole lot! But by re-listing a skirt that didn't sell for 99c for a $5 starting bid, The Bargain Queen sold it for $5 and will make over $3.50 profit. Not enough to retire on, but at least it covers what the skirt cost in the op shop!

So this is what The Bargain Queen's worked out so far:
  • 'Name brand' items sell for far more on eBay than no-name items. This applies for chain store brands as well as designer labels.
  • Desirable branded items (like Marc Jacobs shoes or Gucci perfume) with high starting bids are less likely to sell, but when they do, they go for higher prices than those that started at lower prices. Often the difference isn't big (say $5); but if you're running an eBay business, every bit counts.
  • Within the lower price range that chain-store brands and vintage items attract, a higher starting bid counterintuitively makes the item more desirable and more likely to sell. Perhaps seeing a higher pricetag convinces buyers the item's worth more; perhaps buyers browse through higher-priced items first; or perhaps a low starting bid looks too good to be true, which on eBay usually means it is.
The Bargain Queen's running some more eBay experiments in the coming weeks, and will report back with the results.

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